Life or Death: Are any punishments effective in deterring homicide?


A new report, Deterrence and the Death Penalty, from the Committee on Deterrence and the Death Penalty of the National Research Council, concludes that research to date on the effect of capital punishment on homicide rates is not useful in determining whether the death penalty increases, decreases, or has no effect on these rates.

The key question researchers pursued is whether capital punishment is less or more effective as a deterrent than alternative punishments, such as a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Yet none of the research that has been done accounted for the possible effect of noncapital punishments on homicide rates. The report recommends new avenues of research that may provide broader insight into any deterrent effects from both capital and noncapital punishments.

Access the report here.

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